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New UPK incentive aims to give low-income families more options and hours

UPK providers can get up to $2,000 for registering with CCCAP
Posted at 6:50 AM, Mar 27, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-27 08:50:09-04

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The state plans to give up to $2,000 to Universal Preschool (UPK) providers who also register for the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP).

They have until June 15 to register through CCCAP to be able to get the bonus. The state only has enough money for 300 providers. The funds will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.

This new incentive aims to give low-income families more childcare options next school year.

Heidi Mather has offered CCCAP through her preschool for about 20 years. She says some providers may be hesitant to sign up.

"I feel like people are just distrustful of CCCAP because of all of the problems, like the extra paperwork," Mather said. "They require additional insurance so that costs us more."

"It used to be really challenging to be a CCCAP provider and a lot of those challenges have been lifted, or are in the process of being lifted," the president of Early Connections Learning Centers Liz Denson said.

UPK providers already get funding from the state. If they sign up for CCCAP, they could get more money to help offset the costs of families paying less.

"Once they figure out that they can actually make more than their private pay rate, by stacking, hopefully, people will jump on board," Mather said.

Through CCCAP, families can also stack their UPK funding to get more hours paid for. UPK offers up to 15 hours per week for free.

With more providers, they could have more options next school year.

Right now, only about one third of UPK providers offer CCCAP in El Paso County.

"We know that there aren't enough CCCAP providers to provide the care that our community needs especially now in El Paso County," Denson said.

The state's department of early childhood said families that make 185% or less of the federal poverty line can be eligible for CCCAP. That's $31,200 for a family of four, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Denson said 65% of their families need CCCAP to access child care.

Mather said half her kids go through CCCAP.

"Without access to CCCAP, we know that thousands of families across the state of Colorado would not have access to high-quality childcare," Denson said.

Colorado offers new incentive for universal preschool providers